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Comment Re:Well, that's pretty much a textbook violation. (Score 2) 106

I don't think that word means what you think it does. Zero rating, by definition, implies discrimination between sources of data. And it doesn't help to say it's ok to do it for Netflix because then your are discriminating against non-Netflix video or non-video applications. The whole point of net neutrality is that a bit is a bit and companies that use public easements (whether telephone poles or public airwaves) are common carriers subject to limitations on pricing.... for the public good.

Comment I'm a big bag of water. (Score 2, Interesting) 310

And so are you. Humans are delicate blobs of protein, fat, and carbs in aqueous solution or suspension. Not the right stuff for space. The only good reason for humans to leave the Earth is to travel to another hospitable planetary surface to establish a permanent colony. All else is engineering ego.

There is little that a human can do in space that can't be done faster and cheaper (when you count life support costs) by an AI controlling robots. But NASA has become a very conservative and bureaucratic organization that feels more comfortable doing what it has already done. For engineers this may be fun but it's not very productive. Once you've expended the boost energy to get out of Earth's gravity well, Mars is not much further away, energy wise, than the Moon.

And there IS a very good reason to establish a self-supporting colony on Mars. Survival of the species.

Comment How much is enough? (Score 4, Insightful) 522

Of course this is a moving scale over time. Right now, for most people, it's about 5Mbps down per person in the household. Netflix takes 3 Mbps. VOIP phone takes 0.16 Mbps. File downloads are usually limited by the server on the other end. I guess that servers will get faster if most folks have faster download speeds. Simple webpage downloads are limited by latency and broadband has little effect. I would really like to hear the case for speeds over 5Mbps/person.

But that's a different issue from what the official "broadband" definition should be. Government subsidies should only go to companies that are pushing the boundaries. Time Warner should not get money for building more of the same slow service.

Comment Re:Inevitable (Score 1) 412

You are assuming that the rise in per capita GDP equals a rise in median income. That is not true in an automation economy where the money goes to the owner class. And yes, war could eliminate the excess workers but would also eliminate the automation by destroying the physical and online infrastructure that makes a technological society possible. This is equivalent to the non-peaceful luddite revolution I started with.

Comment Inevitable (Score 5, Insightful) 412

Automation and adoption of AI is replacing human labor at an accelerating rate, and not just for menial labor. Computers can now do much of work of doctors, lawyers, financial analysts, and a wide array of service occupations. Touch screen vending machines will soon replace counter and kitchen workers in fast food restaurants. This increased productivity (production per person-hour) means higher profits for the companies but that money goes to the owner class, not the general population. So how are people going to survive.

There are two possibilities and only two. A luddite revolution reverses automation so that we return to the economy of the 20th Century.. or... a socialist revolution redistributes the wealth so that the majority of people have a way to have a meaningful life. The either of those revolutions can be peaceful but probably won't be. And this does not mean just Europe. It's the trajectory of the human race. Coming to a continent near you.

Comment This is not seious science (Score 1, Funny) 44

The way you can tell is that the article mentions that their plants had been attacked by mold. Really? And why were mold spores allowed to come into the plant growth facility? This reminds me of a comment by the agronomist in the Biosphere 2 building in Arizona, which was supposed to be a test of the ability of humans to survive in a closed environment such as a Mars habitat. She said she spent two thirds of her time weeding the vegetable garden.

There are lots of difficulties related to space agriculture, including light, heat, and hydration as mentioned in this article. But the ONE ADVANTAGE of off-world farming is that you can guarantee pest free, disease free, weed free environments for the plants. Once the plants are in a space habitat that is clean, there is no reason for ever allowing them to be infected. There are no weeds or bugs on Mars.

Failure to make use of that one big advantage tells you that this Space Shuttle plant stuff is just a publicity stunt.

Comment And yet, productivity is rising. (Score 5, Insightful) 547

"Natural decrease is a major policy concern because it drains the demographic resilience from a region diminishing its economic viability and competitiveness." What a silly argument, given that productivity and and GDP are still rising rapidly in Europe.

Automation is accelerating with AI finally becoming a real thing. Economic output is rising in absolute terms and on a per-person basis. What this should mean is a rising standard of living. But in the US all the benefits of per capita productivity are going to the "owner class". This is the stuff of revolutions.

As long as there are intelligent, healthy people who are unemployed, the birth rate has not fallen enough.

Comment Where do batteries come from? (Score 2) 313

The article notes that VW would become a new competitor to Musk. It also notes that the bottleneck for electric vehicles is availability of batteries. But Musk is currently building the largest battery factory in the world, in Nevada. So VW would also be a customer of the Musk batteries. So now we know why Musk is so excited about VW entering the electric market.

Comment You can't declare independence for someone else. (Score 4, Interesting) 295

Eventually a Mars colony will become independent, when it is economically self-sufficient. But only Martians can do that. Just look at the British colonies as an example. America declared it's independence when it was able to and was forced to. If we had waited for the Brits to "give" us independence, we would still be waiting. And in the case of Mars, it will take a long time because self-sufficiency will be difficult.

Submission + - 3D XPoint is more than it seemed

duckintheface writes: The public focus on the Intel /Micron technology called 3D XPoint has been about it's ability to supplant conventional SSD memory. But it seems that the companies have been under-selling the tech until they have all the legal issues wrapped up. http://bit.ly/1YhzSBg

The article provides an in-depth look at the underlying tech which indicates that 3D XPoint can also replace DRAM and processor chips. This new tech represents an ELE (Extinction Level Event) for computer hardware companies that are not named Intel or Micron.

Comment Don't judge us by this place (Score 5, Informative) 760

Please, please don't judge North Carolina by these rubes. This dumb little town is about 100 miles from Research Triangle Park, the largest concentration of PhDs in the world. North Carolina is a progressive and beautiful state with the best climate in the eastern US. It has traditionally had the best public education system in the South.

Yes, we are currently in the clutches of a backwards Republican state government so there are lots of headlines about regressive policies. But this is an aberration ( the first Republican government in over 100 years) and it will not last long.

Comment The old joke.... (Score 3, Insightful) 267

"Solar is the energy of the future, and always will be." And that was true in a very sad way for the last 30 years. But NOW solar and wind are actually happening. They are already more economical than the market replacement costs of coal and oil, and that's without including the externalized environmental costs of fossil fuels.

So just at the moment when the joke is on fossil fuels for the first time ever, this joker suggest what? That we dump renewables for an unreachable and unproven fantasy? Yeah, that's funny.

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